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The Need for a National Strategy to Address Abuse and Misuse of Prescription Drugs in Canada: Canadian Medical Association Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11035
Date
2013-11-27
Topics
Pharmaceuticals/ prescribing/ cannabis/ marijuana/ drugs
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2013-11-27
Topics
Pharmaceuticals/ prescribing/ cannabis/ marijuana/ drugs
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is pleased to present this brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health for consideration as part of its study on the government's role in addressing prescription drug abuse in Canada. It is increasingly recognized that while prescription medication has an important role in health care, the misuse and abuse of controlled psychoactive prescription medications, notably opioids such as oxycodone, fentanyl and hydromorphone, is emerging as a significant public health and safety issue. The use of prescription opioids is on the rise, in Canada and internationally. Canada has the second highest per capita consumption of prescription opioids in the world, after the United States. The CMA is particularly concerned about the impact of prescription drug abuse and misuse on vulnerable populations; notably, seniors, youth and First Nations. We note, for example, that in 2011 opioids were reported as the third most common drug (after alcohol and marijuana) used by students in Ontario. Controlled prescription medications are legal products intended for legitimate therapeutic purposes, such as pain management or palliative and end-of-life care. However, they may also be used for recreational purposes or to feed an addiction. Though many patients are prescribed controlled drugs to treat medical conditions, it is addiction which drives the drugs' illegal acquisition through means such as doctor-shopping, forging prescribers' signatures, or buying from street dealers or the Internet. Canada's physicians are concerned about the abuse and misuse of prescription medication for a number of reasons. For one, physicians need to assess the condition of patients who request the medication, and consider whether the use is clinically indicated and whether the benefits outweigh the risks. This can be challenging as there is no objective test for assessing pain, and therefore the prescription of opioids rests to a great extent on mutual trust between the physician and the patient. For another, physicians may need to prescribe treatment for patients who become addicted to the medications. Finally, they are vulnerable to patients who forge their signatures or use other illegal means to obtain prescriptions, or who present with fraudulent symptoms, or plead or threaten when denied the drugs they have requested. Canada's physicians believe that the misuse and abuse of prescription medication is a serious problem and because of its complexity, requires a complex and multifaceted solution. Therefore, the CMA makes the following recommendations to the Committee: 1) A National Strategy to Address the Abuse and Misuse of Prescription Medication The CMA recommends that the federal government work with provincial/territorial governments and other stakeholders to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy to address the misuse and abuse of prescription medication in Canada. The CMA has consistently recommended a comprehensive national strategy to address the problems of drug abuse in Canada, whether of illegal or prescription-based substances. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, in its report First Do No Harm: Responding to Canada's Prescription Drug Crisis, has offered nearly 60 recommendations toward the development of a strategy to combat misuse of prescription medications. The CMA believes that such a strategy should include: a) Prevention: Existing community programs and social marketing campaigns to address prescription drug abuse are generally aimed at young recreational users. For example, since many such users report that they get drugs from their parents' or friends' medicine cabinets, many jurisdictions have implemented prescription "take-back" programs, and education campaigns to promote safe storage and disposal of medications. Prevention strategies aimed at other types of prescription drug abuse, and targeting other populations such as health care providers, are still required. b) Treatment: Appropriate services for the treatment of addiction to prescription drugs are also a vital part of a national strategy. The CMA recommends that all partners work to improve and promote access to treatment programs - not only for treatment of addiction, such as pharmacological interventions, support and counselling, and withdrawal management, but also to treat and manage pain. In particular, the CMA recommends improving access to culturally appropriate treatment, counselling and withdrawal management programs in rural and remote areas, and for First Nations. c) Consumer Protection: There are several ways in which consumer protection strategies may form part of a strategy. One is modifications to the drugs themselves. For example, opioid manufacturers have developed formulations of their products intended to minimize their abuse potential, such as "slow-release" formulations and other forms of tamper-proofing to reduce a drug's potential for abuse. CMA supports further investigation into abuse-deterrent technologies. d) Surveillance and Research: Our knowledge of the extent of the prescription drug abuse problem in Canada, and the effectiveness of strategies proposed to combat it, is limited by a number of factors. These will be more specifically addressed later in this brief. 2) Strategies to Enhance Optimal Prescribing in Canada The CMA recommends that governments at all levels work with prescribers and the public, industry and other stakeholders to develop and implement a nationwide strategy to support optimal prescribing and medication use in Canada. In an ideal world, all patients would be prescribed the medications that have the most beneficial effect on their condition while doing the least possible harm. The CMA acknowledges that we have not yet achieved that ideal, but believes that optimal prescribing in Canada is a goal worth achieving. Our 2010 position statement "A Prescription for Optimal Prescribing" (Appendix A) recommends a national strategy to promote best practices in prescribing, and its recommendations can be applied to the specific situation of prescription drug abuse. Key elements of this strategy are: * Relevant, objective and easily accessible information for prescribers, which can readily be incorporated into every day practice. This can include clinical decision-support tools for use at the point of care. * Ongoing development and dissemination of clinical guidance in pain management. A Canadian practice guideline for use of opioids to treat chronic non-cancer pain, prepared under the direction of the multi-stakeholder National Opioid Use Guideline Group (NOUGG), was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on June 15, 2010. A number of plans for dissemination of this guideline are under way, under the direction of the Michael G. DeGroote National Pain Centre at McMaster University. They include an online CME module, co-sponsored by the CMA, which is now being finalized by MDcme.ca, a professional education group based at Memorial University. * Educational programs for prescribers in pain management and in the management of addictions. Both addiction treatment and pain management should be part of the educational curriculum in medical school and residency training as well as in continuing education. Educational programs could also provide prescribers with advice on how to recognize addiction in a patient, or on how to deal with fraudulent or aggressive patients. * Ensuring that prescribers have access to expert advice if required. This could be achieved through such means as: o Academic detailing programs, which use personalized one-on-one techniques to deliver impartial prescribing information to practitioners. o Communities of practice and clinical support networks that link practitioners with experts in the field. Experts can not only provide clinical information, but can provide mentorship and personal advice on best practices. 3) Monitoring and Surveillance of Prescription Drug Abuse The CMA recommends that all levels of government work with one another and health professional regulatory agencies to develop a pan-Canadian system of real-time prescription drug abuse monitoring and surveillance. One of the challenges in dealing with prescription drug abuse is the incompleteness of our knowledge of the extent of the problem, or of the most effective ways to address it. This means that physicians do not have access in real time to the information they need, at the point of care. For example, except in Prince Edward Island, physicians do not have the ability to look up a patient's medical history to determine if he or she has received a prescription from another source. Prescription monitoring programs exist in most provinces, but they vary in quality, in the nature of the information they require, and in the purpose for which data is collected. Some are administered by regulatory colleges, others by governments. The CMA recommends that national standards be developed for prescription monitoring programs, to ensure that all jurisdictions across Canada are collecting the same information in a standard way. Standardization of surveillance and monitoring systems can have a number of positive effects: * It can help identify fraudulent attempts to obtain a prescription, such as an attempt to fill prescriptions from a number of different providers. * It can help deter cross-provincial fraud. * It can help professional regulatory bodies actively monitor and intervene, as needed, with practitioners suspected of over-prescribing or over-dispensing frequently-misused medications. * Finally, it will help researchers gather consistent data to improve our knowledge of the problem, identify research priorities, and determine best practices to address crucial issues. The CMA also recommends that this system be electronic and that it be compatible with electronic medical and pharmacy record systems, and with provincial pharmaceutical databases such as British Columbia's. Provincial and territorial governments should work with the federal government and with health care providers to improve the standardization and sharing of information where appropriate. Prescription monitoring programs should be evaluated to ascertain their effectiveness in reducing misuse and abuse. We are pleased that federal, provincial and territorial health ministries have expressed interest in working together on issues related to prescription drug abuse, and we hope that this will result in a coherent national system for monitoring and surveillance, and thus to improved knowledge about the nature of the problem and its most effective solutions. In conclusion, the Canadian Medical Association reiterates the deep concern of Canada's physicians about prescription drug abuse and misuse in this country. We are committed to enhancing optimal prescribing and to working with governments to develop and implement a strong, coherent plan of action to address this pressing national problem.
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CMA submission to the study of Bill C-37

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy13617
Date
2017-04-06
Topics
Pharmaceuticals/ prescribing/ cannabis/ marijuana/ drugs
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2017-04-06
Topics
Pharmaceuticals/ prescribing/ cannabis/ marijuana/ drugs
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) provides this brief for consideration as part of the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs’ study of Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts.1 1 Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts. Retrieved from: http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&DocId=8769825 2 British Columbia Coroners Service. Coroners Report. Illicit Drug Overdose Deaths in BC: January 1, 2007 – February 28, 2017. Retrieved from: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/death-investigation/statistical/illicit-drug.pdf 3 Health Canada “Government of Canada announces new comprehensive drug strategy supported by proposed legislative changes”. News release. December 12, 2016. Retrieved from: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1168519 4 Health Canada “Government of Canada announces new comprehensive drug strategy supported by proposed legislative changes”. News release. December 12, 2016. Retrieved from: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1168519 The CMA is deeply concerned with the opioid crisis in Canada, with unprecedented levels of harms, including overdose deaths. The crisis is taking a toll on individuals, families and communities, as well as first responders and health professionals at the front lines. The most recent BC Coroner’s Report indicates there were about 3.6 illicit drug overdose deaths per day in February 2017, an increase of 72.9% over the number of deaths in February of last year.2 Other provinces are also facing critical situations. The CMA welcomes the introduction of Bill C-37, proposed by the Minister of Health to address various portions of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), among other changes. * We are particularly appreciative, given that this is part of a new federal strategy that promises to “replace the existing National Anti-Drug Strategy with a more balanced approach (…) and restores harm reduction as a core pillar of Canada’s drug policy, alongside prevention, treatment and enforcement and supports all pillars with a strong evidence base.3 This is necessary to ensure a public health approach to drug use and addiction. * For further discussion of CMA’s position on addiction, harm reduction and supervised consumption sites, as well as terminology, such as supervised consumption sites or supervised injection sites, see CMA’s submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Bill C-2 An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Respect for Communities Act). May 14, 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/submissions/cma-brief-c2-respect-for-communities-act-senate-committee-may-14-2015-english.pdf This proposed legislation includes various objectives, including “to prohibit the unregistered import of pill presses, and remove the exception currently placed on border officers to only open mail weighing more than 30 grams,” (…) to “make it a crime to possess or transport anything intended to be used to produce controlled substances, allow for temporary scheduling of new psychoactive substances, and support faster and safer disposal of seized chemicals and other dangerous substances.”4 CMA is supportive of actions by the federal government that advance the work at national, provincial and local levels to address the opioid crisis. Application for a Supervised Consumption Site The objective of Bill C-37 that CMA would like to provide recommendations for is the one that seeks to “simplify the process of applying for an exemption that would allow certain activities to take place at a supervised consumption site, as well as the process of applying for subsequent exemptions.5 5 Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts. Legislative Summary. Retrieved from: http://www.parl.gc.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?billId=8689350&Language=E&Mode=1&View=8 6 Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=8056955&Language=E&Mode=1&File=24#1 7 Bill C-2 An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Respect for Communities Act). CMA submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. May 14, 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/submissions/cma-brief-c2-respect-for-communities-act-senate-committee-may-14-2015-english.pdf 8 Supreme Court of Canada (2011) Canada (A.G.) v. PHS Comm. Serv. Soc. Retrieved from: http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/7960/index.do 9 Supreme Court of Canada (2011) Canada (A.G.) v. PHS Comm. Serv. Soc. supra. p.192-3 10 Vancouver Coastal Health. News release. Further overdose response action to include BC Mobile Medical Unit and new overdose prevention sites. December 8, 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.vch.ca/about-us/news/news-releases/further-overdose-response-action-to-include-bc-mobile-medical-unit-and-new-overdose-prevention-sites 11 CTV. ‘Pop–up’ injection sites aim to combat overdoses in Vancouver. November 20, 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/pop-up-injection-sites-aim-to-combat-overdoses-in-vancouver-1.3169397 12 Woo, A. & Perreaux, L. Health Canada approves three supervised consumption sites for Montreal. Globe and Mail. February 6, 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/federal-government-approves-three-supervised-injection-sites-in-montreal/article33914459/ 13 Supreme Court of Canada (2011) Canada (A.G.) v. PHS Comm. Serv. Soc. supra. p.192-3 14 Bill C-2 An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Respect for Communities Act). CMA submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. May 14, 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/submissions/cma-brief-c2-respect-for-communities-act-senate-committee-may-14-2015-english.pdf 15 Schatz, E. & Nougier, M. (2012) Drug consumption rooms: evidence and practice. International Drug Policy Consortium Briefing Paper. (p.20) Retrieved from: http://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/17898/1/IDPC-Briefing-Paper_Drug-consumption-rooms.pdf 16 Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=8056955&Language=E&Mode=1&File=24#1 The Bill proposes to repeal the 26 requirements to apply for an exemption to the CDSA, in Section 56.1, established by the Respect for Communities Act (former Bill C-26). The CMA supports the repeal, as we have repeatedly called for the withdrawal of the amendments made by former Bill C-2, and their replacement with “legislation that recognizes the unequivocal evidence of benefits of supervised consumption sites, that was accepted by the Supreme Court. Legislation would enhance access to health services, which include prevention, harm reduction and treatment services in communities where the evidence has shown they would benefit from such health services.”7 Bill C-37 proposes to replace those 26 requirements with the five elements cited in the 2011 Supreme Court of Canada unanimous ruling on Insite8, Vancouver’s supervised injection site. These elements are, “evidence, if any, on: . the impact of such a facility on crime rates, . the local conditions indicating a need for such a supervised injection site, . the regulatory structure in place to support the facility, . the resources available to support its maintenance and . expressions of community support or opposition.”9 These elements are proposed to reduce the unnecessary obstacles and burdens on local health departments and community organizations that would deter the creation of new supervised consumption sites, even when the health and safety benefits have been clearly established. Because of this cumbersome process, the BC Ministry of Health recently authorized the creation of “overdose prevention sites” in various locations where there are concerning numbers of overdose deaths, while the ministry “wait(s) for Health Canada approval of supervised consumption services”.10 This was after the creation of unsanctioned popup sites by community groups in the downtown eastside.11 Only Insite and the Dr Peter Centre operate with approved exemptions to date, with Montreal having recently received approval for three sites.12 Many other applications have been submitted for sites in Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto and Ottawa, and others are in preparation. Although a welcome reduction to only five elements, the CMA believes that these elements require more clarity, as they can be subject to interpretation, and undue influence, and could still demand unnecessary and significant time and resources on the part of provincial and local agencies. As well, the present crisis would require an expedited process that would not delay local responses to the crisis. Hence, our first recommendation is that there be provisions for an expedited review, at the request of provincial or territorial ministries of health, for situations in which there is an immediate need for such sites. Further, CMA recommends that the elements required for an application for opening a supervised consumption site proposed in Bill C-37 be more clearly defined and simplified in order not to require unnecessary and extensive resources and funding by local public health authorities and community agencies. The central element to be considered is that of “the local conditions indicating a need for such a supervised injection site”. Local health authorities and community organizations struggle with the issues related to drug use, including rising rates of infections, overdoses and deaths, and this is the fundamental reason to open a supervised consumption site. The regulatory structure and the resources available to support a supervised consumption site’s maintenance are issues that local health authorities deal with regularly for any health service, given the need to provide care with reduced risk of liability. The impact of a facility on crime rates is difficult to quantify before such a site is created. Further, the government must consider the experience of the many sites both in Canada and internationally, where law and order have improved in the areas surrounding those sites. The Supreme Court stated that there has been “no discernible negative impact on the public safety and health objectives of Canada during its [Insite’s] eight years of operation.”13 As well, the crime rate is not only influenced by the existence or not of a site, but by many other factors, such as unemployment and enforcement resources. A site would necessarily be located where there are high rates of drug use, for the very purpose of offering people who use drugs much needed harm reduction and support services. The last element, expressions of community support or opposition, should not represent a burden to applicants. As stated in our brief on Bill C-2, “although public opinion might initially be against the introduction of such facilities, public acceptance of supervised consumption sites is considerably high in most of the locations where they have been established, in both Vancouver sites and in European countries.”14 Communities, neighbourhoods and local authorities are usually involved in the good functioning of the facilities through cooperation and communication.15 Bill C-2 is an example of how this element could be interpreted. There was an extensive list of letters of opinion required, including from representatives of local police and local and provincial governments (ministers of health and public safety), chief public health officer, professional licensing authorities for physicians and for nurses, as well as reports from community consultations.16 Such a requirement represented a cumbersome and unnecessary burden. The CMA looks forward to continued collaboration with the federal government and other organizations in the development of further action as part of the much needed comprehensive approach to address the opioid crisis. Recommendations 1. The CMA recommends that there be provisions for an expedited review, at the request of provincial or territorial ministries of health, for situations in which there is an immediate need for such sites. 2. The CMA recommends that the elements required for an exemption application to the CDSA to open a supervised consumption site, proposed in Bill C-37, be clearly defined and simplified in order not to require unnecessary and extensive resources and funding by local public health authorities and community agencies. Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts. Retrieved from: http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&DocId=8769825 2 British Columbia Coroners Service. Coroners Report. Illicit Drug Overdose Deaths in BC: January 1, 2007 – February 28, 2017. Retrieved from: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/death-investigation/statistical/illicit-drug.pdf 3 Health Canada “Government of Canada announces new comprehensive drug strategy supported by proposed legislative changes”. News release. December 12, 2016. Retrieved from: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1168519 4 Health Canada “Government of Canada announces new comprehensive drug strategy supported by proposed legislative changes”. News release. December 12, 2016. Retrieved from: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1168519 7 5 Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related amendments to other Acts. Legislative Summary. Retrieved from: http://www.parl.gc.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?billId=8689350&Language=E&Mode=1&View=8 6 Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=8056955&Language=E&Mode=1&File=24#1 7 Bill C-2 An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Respect for Communities Act). CMA submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. May 14, 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/submissions/cma-brief-c2-respect-for-communities-act-senate-committee-may-14-2015-english.pdf 8 Supreme Court of Canada (2011) Canada (A.G.) v. PHS Comm. Serv. Soc. Retrieved from: http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/7960/index.do 9 Supreme Court of Canada (2011) Canada (A.G.) v. PHS Comm. Serv. Soc. supra. p.192-3 10 Vancouver Coastal Health. News release. Further overdose response action to include BC Mobile Medical Unit and new overdose prevention sites. December 8, 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.vch.ca/about-us/news/news-releases/further-overdose-response-action-to-include-bc-mobile-medical-unit-and-new-overdose-prevention-sites 11 CTV. ‘Pop–up’ injection sites aim to combat overdoses in Vancouver. November 20, 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/pop-up-injection-sites-aim-to-combat-overdoses-in-vancouver-1.3169397 12 Woo, A. & Perreaux, L. Health Canada approves three supervised consumption sites for Montreal. Globe and Mail. February 6, 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/federal-government-approves-three-supervised-injection-sites-in-montreal/article33914459/ 13 Supreme Court of Canada (2011) Canada (A.G.) v. PHS Comm. Serv. Soc. supra. p.192-3 14 Bill C-2 An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Respect for Communities Act). CMA submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. May 14, 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/submissions/cma-brief-c2-respect-for-communities-act-senate-committee-may-14-2015-english.pdf 15 Schatz, E. & Nougier, M. (2012) Drug consumption rooms: evidence and practice. International Drug Policy Consortium Briefing Paper. (p.20) Retrieved from: http://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/17898/1/IDPC-Briefing-Paper_Drug-consumption-rooms.pdf 16 Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=8056955&Language=E&Mode=1&File=24#1
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